Everything Pregnancy

Mom Warns Severe Itchiness During Pregnancy Might Be More Dangerous Than It Seems

This mom experienced chronic itching during pregnancy that turned out to be a rare but serious condition that could have left her with a stillborn baby.

pregnant itching Chajamp/Shutterstock
I am currently pregnant with my fourth child, and it seems every day, a new, weird pregnancy symptom pops up. Today's special: a headache and sinus congestion, which I can add to the existing list of nausea, exhaustion, irritability, and a seeming-tenfold exaggeration of my sense of smell.

Michigan mom-to-be Christina DePino was just a few months into her pregnancy when she too noticed an odd symptom: itchiness.

"The itching was so severe that I would wake up and I wouldn't be able to go back to bed, and my legs and arms were scabbed and bleeding from the uncontrollable need to scratch," DePino told CBS News.

DePino, understandably, didn't know what to attribute the unbearable itchiness to. That's when a Facebook post bemoaning her misery led to the answer she was seeking. Commenters suggested she might have intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).

On the American Liver Foundation website, ICP is explained as "a liver disorder which occurs during pregnancy. This condition affects the normal flow of bile. Bile acids are chemicals in the bile of the liver that help with digestion. With ICP the bile flow begins to slow down in tern the bile acids build up in the blood. This results in the woman itching that can vary in severity and type. The itching can be bothersome to severe itching and is often worse at night."

Bingo!

Luckily, a doctor diagnosed DePino with the condition at 36 weeks. Because ICP can have severe repercussions for a growing baby, including a very high risk of death after 37 weeks. A week after DePino was diagnosed, she was induced, and welcomed a healthy baby girl with her equally relieved husband Aaron.

DePino took to Facebook again to share a warning to other expectant moms who might be suffering from uncomfortable itchiness.

"If your pregnant & your [sic] itching REALLY bad, don't ignore it!!" DePino wrote in her post. She goes on to say, "I got the itch checked out & found out I had pregnancy Cholestasis, which is basically harmless for me - except for the crazy itching - But could have caused a still born after 37 weeks!! I was officially diagnosed last week and had to get her out this week!"

Now, the new mama calls herself the crazy lady who is going around warning pregnant ladies about itching. For that, we thank her!

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and soon-to-be mom of 4. Find her on Facebook where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.